This is one of those topics where I know I don’t have all the answers, but I am curious about how many presidential descendants served in some capacity during the Great War.

We always hear about Theodore Roosevelt’s four sons serving in the war. That is only natural; TR had only been out of office for eight years when the United States entered the war. TR had been quite outspoken in the years leading up to the war. The sons had been a part of the public consciousness of the Roosevelt family for many years. There was the outpouring of grief when the youngest son, Quentin, lost his life when his plane was shot down.

Jim has filled us in previously with the story of the Roosevelts.


But it had never occurred to me that others of Presidential blood might have served in the war. Not the must rational thought.

But then, I learned that Spiegel Grove, the home of the 19th President, Rutherford B. Hayes, had a special exhibit on the Hayes descendants that served in the Great War. That included one son, a daughter-in-law, and six grandsons. Quite a contribution. For more information:

Now having gone to college near Fremont, Ohio, the location of Spiegel Grove, and having a professor who wrote about President Hayes, I knew enough about the son who served, Webb Cook Hayes. Hayes had a military career, and in fact, received the Medal of Honor for action in the Philippines. I know little of the grandsons, however, but that may not be the point. The Hayes family did their part in World War I.

I can tell you of two other presidential sons who served in World War I. Richard Cleveland, son of Grover, broke off from studies at Princeton to join the Marine Corps. I can’t tell you much of his military record.

Likewise, Charles Phelps Taft, son of William Howard, also broke off from his studies at Yale to join the Army. I can’t tell you much about his service, either.

I suspect though, this covers the sons of presidents who served in the Great War. I suspect there are more in the later generations, but that can be difficult to locate. But I suspect there are people out there that can fill in the blanks. I encourage you to do so in the comment block.

Blair Tarr is the Museum Curator of the Kansas State Historical Society. He oversees the three-dimensional collections of the Society, but has special interests in the Civil War, Wichita-made Valentine diners, and Leavenworth's Abernathy Furniture. In the last few years he has also done a lot of cramming on The Great War. He is a past president of the Kansas Museums Association and the Civil War Round Tables of both Kansas City and Eastern Kansas. He is currently a board member of the Heritage League of Greater Kansas City.